By David DeKok
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - The governor of Pennsylvania said on Wednesday the state will not appeal a judge's ruling allowing same-sex marriage in the state.
The decision by Governor Tom Corbett, a conservative Republican, will allow Pennsylvania to become the 19th U.S. state to extend the rights of matrimony to gay and lesbian couples.
Corbett said in a statement that an appeal of the ruling handed down on Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge John Jones III was "extremely unlikely to succeed."
"Therefore, after review of the opinion and on the advice of my Commonwealth legal team, I have decided not to appeal Judge Jones' decision," he said in a statement.
He added that while he continued to oppose gay marriage, "the court has spoken."
His decision will allow the nuptials of gay couples such as Lisa Wagner, 32, and Lindsey Trace, 30, of Shippensburg to proceed.
"We're making history," Wagner said as the couple waited in the early morning hours outside the Dauphin County courthouse to apply for a marriage license.
"It's something we can tell our children and grandchildren," she said. "Not many people can say that."
Corbett, who faces deep dissatisfaction within his own party, is in a tough bid for re-election.
In the November general election, he will face businessman and former Peace Corps volunteer Tom Wolf, a progressive Democrat who backed efforts to repeal the state's ban on same-sex marriage.
Public opinion polls show a majority of Democrats and independents in Pennsylvania support same-sex marriage but only about a third of state Republicans do so.
Corbett was campaigning in western Pennsylvania on Wednesday
with conservative Texas Governor Rick Perry, another gay marriage opponent.
(This version of the story fixes the word in the first paragraph to appeal, not repeal.)
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Andrew Hay)